Bruegger's Bagels celebrates a milestone - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Bruegger's Bagels celebrates a milestone

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Whether it's plain with cream cheese or a little more adventurous, no matter how you like your bagel Bruegger's Bagels can accommodate.

"It's a donut without sugar," said David Alexander of Winooski.

With 20 fresh varieties baked daily and endless toppings, the company has been making its mark on the bagel world since 1983.

"We bake them the hard way, which is the old-fashioned way. We boil them first then bake them. We do it all day, every day. We've been doing it for 30 years," said David Austin, the president of Bruegger's.

The company has 300 stores across the country; three are in Vermont. All the locations use cream cheese manufactured in Enosburgh. Last year, they used 3 million lbs. of the creamy stuff.

Bruegger's Bagels marked 30 years Thursday. They celebrated by handing out free bagels and cream cheese all morning.

"You eat it in four or five bites. It gets you where you need to go. It's like a pit stop," Alexander said.

The chain has switched hands a few times, most recently being bought two years ago by Le Duff America, which is headquartered in Dallas. But Bruegger's is still run out of Burlington, where the company first started.

"In my view, those things have value not only to investors but to consumers and that's part of the reason why Le Duff has maintained the headquarters here in Burlington," Austin said.

The bagel business can be bumpy. Austin says the late 1990s were known as the bagel wars-- competition was fierce and Bruegger's closed approximately 200 stores.

"I think at one point a dozen companies were building retail bagel bakeries across the U.S. and the supply outstripped the demand, so there was a shakeout period," Austin said.

By cutting costs, closing stores and keeping their bagel recipe the same, Bruegger's survived. Now, 30 years and counting, Bruegger's plans to grow, adding 100 new stores by 2015.

Bruegger's says it hopes to have a viewing area to see its bagels being made in their stores in the future.

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